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Digital nomads: Who can work remotely in Austria?

The Covid-19 pandemic ushered in a new era of remote work opportunities, but being a digital nomad is still a legal grey area in some countries. Here’s how it works in Austria.

Digital nomads: Who can work remotely in Austria?
What are the rules for digital nomads in Austria? (Photo by Canva Studio / Pexels).

Travelling the world as a digital nomad is a dream come true for many and Austria is a prime location for those that want to explore the mountains or spend time in historic Vienna. 

But the lifestyle of a digital nomad is not always as free as people expect – especially when it comes to visas, taxes and health insurance.

Here’s what you need to know about working remotely in Austria.

READ MORE: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

Does Austria have a digital nomad visa?

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries have jumped on the remote work bandwagon and are offering eligible people a digital nomad visa for a set amount of time (usually one year or more).

Unfortunately, Austria is not one of those countries.

But that doesn’t mean Austria is completely out of bounds. Instead it just means knowing the different immigration rules for EU and non-EU citizens when it comes to spending time in the Alpine Republic.

What are the rules for EU citizens?

Citizens of EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries can stay in Austria for up to three months (90 days) without having to register as a resident.

For stays of more than three months, you have to be employed, self-employed, a student at a recognised educational institution or have enough money to support yourself financially.

In theory, this means someone from France or Italy can relocate to Austria for several months (or years) to live and work – as long as they follow the rules related to proof of residence, health insurance and tax.

For example, anyone that wants to live in Austria for more than three months is required to officially register their address. This is known as the Meldebestätigung (proof of residence) and is required to get the official registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinugung).

READ MORE: Anmeldebescheinigung: How to get Austria’s crucial residence document

Then there is health insurance, which is compulsory for all legal residents in Austria. 

If you work for an employer, this is organised automatically through the Österreichische Gesundheitskasse (ÖGK). For those that are self-employed, health insurance is provided through the Sozialversicherungsanstalt der Selbständigen (SVS).

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) does provide some cover but not all medical visits, so self-supporting people in Austria have to find private health insurance to ensure they won’t be a burden on the Austrian medical system.

Taxes should also be considered by any EU citizens thinking about relocating to Austria to work remotely as this is where it can get complicated without a dedicated digital nomad visa.

In Austria, you will be considered a tax resident if you spend more than 180 days per year in the country.

Depending on the rules of your country of residence, this could impact where you are liable to pay tax on income and is something to keep in mind when planning to relocate to Austria on a temporary basis.

What are the rules for non-EU citizens?

Like EU and EEA citizens, some third-country nationals can stay in Austria for up to 90 days out of every 180 days as a tourist. These countries include the US and the UK.

The 90-day rule applies to the entire Schengen Area though, so if you spend 90 days in Austria you can’t then jump over the border to spend another 90 days in Germany. Instead, you will have to leave the Schengen Area if you do not have a valid visa.

FOR MEMBERS: Austria vs Germany: Which country is better to move to?

For people that want to stay in Austria for longer than 90 days there is the option to apply for Visa D, which allows third-country nationals to stay in the country for up to six months as a visitor (or up to 12 months in exceptional circumstances). This visa has to be applied for in your country of residence before arriving in Austria.

However, as there is not a dedicated digital nomad visa in Austria (as already mentioned above), working in Austria remotely as a third-country national with a tourist visa or Visa D is not legal.

Instead, a long-term visa option is to apply for a self employed key worker visa. This immigration route is essentially an investor visa and involves a minimum investment of €100,000 into a business, the creation of new jobs and proof that the business will have an impact on the region.

For most digital nomads, this is financially out of reach and not in keeping with the digital nomad lifestyle.

So for most non-EU citizens, it is possible to stay in Austria for up to six months as a tourist. But for anything longer – or to work legally in Austria – it means giving up the digital nomad lifestyle and committing to living in Austria on a more permanent basis.

This article was updated on May 9th 2022 to clarify that working remotely while in Austria as a tourist is not legal.

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REVEALED: EU plans digital-only Schengen visa application process

Soon those non-EU nationals requested to have a Schengen visa to travel to European countries will no longer need to go to a consulate to submit the application and get a passport sticker, but will be able to apply online. 

REVEALED: EU plans digital-only Schengen visa application process

The European Commission has proposed to make the Schengen visa process completely digital.

The special visa, which allows to stay for tourism or business (but not work) in 26 European countries for up to 90 days in any 6-month period. 

Nationals of third countries such as South Africa, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka need the Schengen Visa to visit Europe, but they are not needed for other non-EU nationals such as Britons or Americans. You can see the full list of countries who need a Schengen visa here.

The proposal will have to be approved by the European Parliament and Council, but is in line with an agreed strategy that EU governments are keen to accelerate in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

Once agreed, the system will be used by the countries that are part of the border-free Schengen area. These include EU countries, excluding Ireland (which opted out), and Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Cyprus (which do not issue Schengen visas). Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland, which are not EU members but have signed the Schengen Convention, will be part of the new system too.

Paper-based processes required applicants to travel to consulates to submit the application and collect their passports with the visa, a procedure that “proved problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Commission said.

Some EU countries have already started to switch to digital systems but not all accept online payments for the visa fees. 

When the new system will be in place, the Commission says, applicants will be able to check on the EU Visa Application platform whether they need a visa. If so, they will create an account, fill out the application form, upload the documents and pay. 

The platform will automatically determine which Schengen country will be responsible for the application and applicants will be able to check their status and receive notifications. Travellers will then be able to access the visa online, and if needed extend it too.

“Half of those coming to the EU with a Schengen visa consider the visa application burdensome, one-third have to travel long distance to ask for a visa. It is high time that the EU provides a quick, safe and web-based EU visa application platform for the citizens of the 102 third countries that require short term visa to travel to the EU,” said Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

“With some member states already switching to digital, it is vital the Schengen area now moves forward as one,” said Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas.

However, first-time applicants, people with biometric data that are no longer valid or with a new travel document, will still have to go to a consulate to apply.

Family members of citizens from the EU and the European Economic Area, as well as people who need assistance, will also be able to continue to apply on paper. 

The EU Visa Application platform will be used from third countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa to enter the EU and is different from the ETIAS (European Travel Information Authorisation), which is currently under development.

The ETIAS will be used by non-EU nationals who are exempt from visas but who will need to apply for a travel authorisation prior to their trip. This will cost 7 euros and will be free for people below the age of 18 and above 70. 

Based on the discussion between the European Parliament and Council, the Commission could start developing the platform in 2024 and make it operational in 2026. EU countries will then have five years to phase out national portals and switch to the common online system. 

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